The majority of Americans oppose laws that would force transgender people to use bathrooms based on the gender listed on their birth certificates according to new polling from the Public Religion Research Institute.
Fifty-three percent of respondents oppose such laws, 39% favor them, and nearly 10% have no opinion.
Republicans favor such laws, 59%-36%, Independents oppose them, 57%-39%, and Democrats oppose them 65%-30%.
This is a case where it really is Republicans kind of pulling away and being more of an outlier to the rest of the country.
--Robert P. Jones, PRRI
Religious divisions are less stark. A majority of religiously unaffiliated Americans (64%) and Catholics (56%) oppose laws that require transgender people to use bathrooms that align with their sex at birth. Other religious groups are more divided. Half (50%) of white evangelical Protestants and close to half (45%) of nonwhite Protestants favor laws mandating that transgender people use bathrooms corresponding to their birth sex. Roughly as many white evangelical Protestants (45%) and nonwhite Protestants (45%) oppose such laws. Four in ten (40%) white mainline Protestants favor transgender bathroom laws, while half (50%) are opposed. More than one in ten (11%) white mainline Protestants offer no opinion.
While seven in 10 Americans say they have a close friend or family member who identifies as gay or lesbian, just 21 percent say the same of a transgender person – although that figure has nearly doubled from 11 percent in 2011.
Sixty-three percent of respondents favor the legalization of same-sex marriages, up from 52% in 2013.
Support for same-sex marriage is fairly consistent across regions with one notable exception: Americans living in the South are substantially less supportive than Americans living in other parts of the country. Roughly seven in ten Americans living in the Northeast (69%), West (68%) and Midwest (67%) favor same-sex marriage compared to 54% of Southerners.
Same-sex marriage is now supported by more than three-quarters of Democrats (76%) and roughly two-thirds (66%) of independents. Fewer than half (45%) of Republicans favor same-sex marriage, but only a slim majority (51%) still oppose it. Like Americans overall, Republicans are divided by age. A majority (57%) of Republicans under the age of 50 favor same-sex marriage, compared to only about one-third (36%) of those aged 50 or older.
There is broad public support for laws protecting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people against discrimination in jobs, public accommodations and housing. Seven in ten (70%) Americans favor laws that would provide these protections to LGBT people, compared to roughly one-quarter (26%) who oppose such laws.
More than six in ten Americans say gay and lesbian people (61%) and transgender people (64%) face a lot of discrimination in the U.S. today.
However, there are sharp partisan differences on this question. Democrats are roughly twice as likely as Republicans to say gay and lesbian people face a lot of discrimination in the country today (79% vs. 40%, respectively). Notably, a majority (57%) of Republicans do not believe gay and lesbian people face a lot of discrimination. Independents largely reflect the views of the public overall. An identical number (79%) of Democrats believe transgender people face a lot of discrimination, while fewer than half (48%) of Republicans agree. Again, the views of independents generally align with Americans overall.
Opinion is also fractured along religious lines, with white Christian groups expressing views that are quite different from most other religious groups. White evangelical Protestants stand out as the only group in which less than a majority (46%) believe gay and lesbian people face a lot of discrimination today. Majorities of white mainline Protestants (52%) and white Catholics (54%) and at least seven in ten nonwhite Protestants (70%), members of non-Christian religious traditions (70%), and unaffiliated Americans (73%) say gay and lesbian people experience a great deal of discrimination in the U.S. today. Opinions about discrimination faced by transgender people follows a similar pattern.